Posts Tagged With: lost cove

“For Love of Beer & Mountains” Lost Cove Excursion

20150725_093647Late this summer, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Highland Brewing Company were joined by The Aloft Hotel, Altamont Environmental, Traveling Chic Boutique and USA Raft to explore Lost Cove, where SAHC protected a 95-acre tract in 2012. We hiked into the gorge and rafted the Nolichucky River while learning about the historical significance of the area.

The day began with a hike, to the crest of Flattop Mountain, passing through abundant fields of milkweed spread across the upper elevation meadow — a hopeful sign for Monarch butterflies.

IMG_2628After taking in beautiful, clear views from the top, we descended into the gorge. Hiking down the trail was like hiking a ‘boulder-fall’ ­— it appeared a bit like a waterfall, but instead of water, massive moss-covered rocks and boulders rippled one after another. They blanketed the path with rich textures and varying shades of green.

Upon reaching the edge of the abandoned community, the trail leveled out and our group felt as if we were walking back in time. Imaginations soared as we pondered what it would have been like, ‘once upon a time.’ The remoteness of the place affected us deeply. We explored and imagined, talking about how it might have felt to live so removed from the outside world. Lost Cove provided a great space for reflection.

20150725_114407Last year, with help from USA Raft, we led a successful “Raft Out the Trash” volunteer day, removing over a ton of garbage from the cove. We were gratified, and pleased, to see that the cleaned up areas had remained mostly clear. This trip, we picked up and removed just 3 small bags of litter.

untitled-1000483After exploring the area, we continued down the soil ‘road’ where the old-time moonshiners would have driven illicit goods to the river and railroad tracks. It was really just a crumbly soil path, strewn with boulders and hard to walk on. We couldn’t imagine navigating the route with any sort of vehicle. We reached the river and prepared for the final, waterborne leg of the outing.

The USA Raft guides were great — personable and capable — they definitely knew their way around the river. Even though the river was low, it was still a fun ride! We rafted down to take out at USA Raft’s outpost in Erwin, TN, where our Duke Stanback summer intern, Martha Dawson, had a picnic lunch spread and cold beverages laid out, awaiting our arrival.lost_cove_h

What a great way to end an incredible excursion! We enjoyed fellowship with partners on the trip, reflecting back on the events of the day. Thank you, USA Raft, for providing the space — and for guiding us down the river!

 

About the “For Love of Beer & Mountains” Partnership

HBC_logo_largerHighland Brewing Company  has partnered with SAHC to support conservation and heighten awareness of the natural treasures of the Southern Appalachians. As part of the partnership, HBC names each seasonal release for a feature of our natural landscape. Their latest seasonal, Lost Cove American Pale Ale, is named for this area.

Special Thanks to USA Raft

untitled-1000461USA Raft is based in Erwin, TN with another location in Marshall, NC. They offer whitewater rafting on the Nolichucky, French Broad and Watauga Rivers — plus some unique recreation opportunities such as wild caving, whitewater stand up paddleboard, kayak lessons and bellyak instruction. The Erwin location offers bunkhouse and cabin rentals, river frontage, stocked trout pond and Appalachian Trail access, all on the property.

USA raft“We are very proud of our relationship with such an active and wonderful organization,” said Matt Moses, USA Raft General Manager. “We specifically choose this group to support because it is full of people that are actively making our surroundings better for future generations. There have been many land acquisitions and projects close to both of our locations, including Lost Cove, that our staff and guests benefit from. We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of SAHC.”

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Categories: Hikes | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Raft Out the Trash!

Raft Out the Trash Volunteers, and the haul.

Raft Out the Trash Volunteers, and the haul.

Where would we be without our volunteers and amazing AmeriCorps Project Conserve members? Our “Raft Out the Trash” event  earlier this year reflects a stellar example of how these team members’ incredible initiative, drive and dedication help us achieve conservation success.

Since protecting the Lost Cove tract in 2012, we at SAHC have heard over and over how much this special place resonates with people. Unfortunately, however, years of illegal use had marred the beauty of the cove – and left literally tons of trash strewn about. When our AmeriCorps Outreach & PR Associate, Anna Zanetti, first scouted a hike into Lost Cove, she was appalled by what she found and commenced to plan an ambitious volunteer excursion to take care of it. The resulting “Raft Out the Trash” event was part of our celebration of Earth Month 2014, and this is Anna’s account of the day:

“The arrival of summer entices us to bask in the beauty of our mountains and rivers. Unfortunately, a recent volunteer experience with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) reminded me not to take our natural spaces for granted. I led a group of volunteers into the Nolichucky Gorge to “Raft Out The Trash” from a secluded, protected tract near the NC/TN border; and what we found there could be a poster lesson for “Leave No Trace.”

Before

Before

I recruited 24 volunteers to clean up scars of vandalism and debris in Lost Cove, a historic ghost town surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. USA Raft generously offered their services in partnership for the volunteer day, replacing a strenuous trek out of the gorge with an adventurous rafting trip after a long and rewarding day of service.

After

After

On the morning of the event, we met a group of cheerful volunteers at USA Raft’s outpost in Erwin Tennessee and proceeded to the trail head. After soaking in the sun and views from the meadow above the gorge, we began a three-mile descent to the Lost Cove settlement, surveyed the damage, and divided into two groups to conquer the trash.

It was seriously sad. One group picked up beer cans, glass containers, and even clothing littered around the site. The other intrepid half of our party forayed into the more-than-knee-deep pit of garbage filling one of the remaining historic outbuildings, probably once used as an agricultural store house. They gathered up a hefty load of bottles, cans, shards of glass, scraps of plastic, aluminum foil, even pots and pans — the remnants of camps where people had come down to enjoy the cove and left much more than just a trace.

A little ingenuity goes a long way!

A little ingenuity goes a long way!

Despite the dirty work, we were still pretty fresh after filling our bags with garbage. But that’s when the real challenge hit us: How were we going to carry the bags (each containing around 100 lbs. of trash) down about a mile of the steepest, rockiest terrain to the meeting point with USA Raft? In cases like this, a little ingenuity goes a long way.

Teamwork!

Teamwork!

Henry, one of our volunteers, suggested we tie the bags of trash onto sturdy branches to help displace the weight on our shoulders. Working in pairs, and stopping along the way to take breaks and check out some of the blooming wildflowers, our crew finally reached the river. We rested underneath the shady trees to rejuvenate and ate lunch atop a rock bluff overlooking the Nolichucky River. Struggling with fatigue in the last portion of our trek, our group certainly gained a greater appreciation for the folks who had once inhabited the Lost Cove settlement and hiked goods and supplies up that steep trail!

Hiking down the trash.

Hiking down the trash.

After lunch the raft guides arrived. They pulled up to the beach with five rafts and ten guides, each a rollicking river character. With professional ease and an entertaining air, the guides ushered our group into four of the rafts and helped load the 23 bags of trash onto the last one — and off we went down the class three rapids!

When the passenger rafts paused for a break, we looked around and wondered, where is all the trash? Then, we turned to see one heroic guide managing double oars and keeping the Raft o’Trash afloat. Major kudos to him for navigating the class 3 rapids with all that unwieldy weight! And a huge ‘Thank You’ to USA Raft for safely transporting the trash and volunteers three miles down-river where food, music and fellowship awaited us at the Pickin’ and Paddlin’ event. We had an amazing time on the river and loved the character and camaraderie of the USA Raft staff.

The Raft O'Trash

The Raft O’Trash

After months of preparation and coordination among staff members and USA Raft, the Lost Cove “Raft Out The Trash” event was here and gone. The event was truly a bonding experience for all of us, but it has brought me the greatest happiness to provide this outing for SAHC and all of our volunteers. The experience also deeply underscored the need to remind all who use our beautiful outdoor spaces to strive to Leave No Trace, “to leave only footprints and take only memories.” As you  hike, camp and enjoy the breathtaking mountains around us this summer, please remember to pack out what you bring in – and leave it for others to enjoy in the future, too!

Thank you to all our volunteers, guides, and USA Raft!

Thank you to all our volunteers, guides, and USA Raft!

Categories: Volunteer & Stewardship Activities | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hiking Into The Lost Cove

Although we are in the midst of an arctic freeze in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, we’re eagerly looking forward to the slate of outdoor adventures our outreach team has planned for this year. To whet your appetite, here’s a narrative from one of our 2013 fall hikes – a trek into the 95-acre Lost Cove tract that SAHC purchased in 2012, led by our AmeriCorps PR & Outreach associate Anna Zanetti:

Paddlers along the Nolichucky River on the edge of the Lost Cove property.

Paddlers along the Nolichucky River on the edge of the Lost Cove property.

“Lost Cove, once a self-sustaining community nestled on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, has become a mere ghost town with the occasional company of a destination hiker.

In late November I led 22 people on a hike to the old settlement where only abandoned and crippled buildings now exist. The group hiked up to Flat Top Mountain where we peeked over the edge looking down on the Nolichucky Gorge catching a glimpse of the Lost Cove Property. During the 1940s, from this point, you would have been able to see white buildings consisting of homes, the schoolhouse and the church, but all we saw was overgrowth amongst the color changing leaves. We headed west and began to descend two miles along the old soil bed road until we came to an intersection in the trail. This intersection marks the beginning of the Lost Cove settlement and to the left marks SAHC’s property.

Image

View from Flat Top Mountain looking down upon the Lost Cove.

We walked quietly under the dark clouds that came rushing in, covering the sun. Searching around the group examined the free standing stone chimneys and the decaying structures. Every few feet we would see old deteriorating cans, rusty car parts and we even found a wood-burning stove. We all navigated around on and off trail as if we were investigating an ancient civilization. Everyone was dispersed when a hiker called out, “Come up here, I found their cemetery.” We all rushed together to the top of a hill off of the trail to find a small gated graveyard with tombstones and some flowers. We knelt down reading the literature engraved in the stones — some had poems or just the family name, in places the letters were a little off and the p’s and d’s were backwards. On top of the hill we had a brief snack, but we were too engaged to turn around at that point. As a group we decided to push forward and hike down to the Nolichucky Gorge to see the train tracks and where the train platform once existed.

The group hiked about 1.5 miles descending through bolder fields with moss and lichen in every nook and cranny. It was like a sea of rocks flowing and rising within the tress. This section of the trail is by far my favorite because of its natural beauty. We reached the edge of our property looking upon the Nolichucky River and the train tracks nestled between the surrounding mountains. We all dispersed around the edge of the property to explore. Then we reconvened around an abandoned campsite,  all quiet and ready to eat our lunch. As I was getting settled the ground began to shake and we all stood up to see a train coming around the bend along the river. The graffiti covered railroad carts rushed by caring black coal and other cargo.

After the train was gone a fellow hiker said aloud, “These people had to hike 1.5 miles down here for goods and then proceeded to hike back up the steep and rocky trail with extra weight on their backs.”  This reminded everyone that Appalachian folk were and still are resilient people who don’t back down from a challenge. We packed up our belongings and I handed out trash bags and gloves to anyone willing to pickup and pack out the garbage from the abandoned campsite. Buddy Tignor, President of SAHC’s Board of Trustees, single-handedly packed out around 30 pounds of empty propane cans and debris.

The train was long gone and we were finishing packing up when it began to rain. We didn’t think much about it until the rain became worse, eventually turning into hail. We all looked at each other and understood that it was time to begin the trek up and out the gorge. The hail stinging our bare skin was not our only concern —  the slippery unsure footing made me nervous. A total of 45 minutes later and 1.5 miles up the steep terrain the rain and hail had stopped, giving us the opportunity to catch our breath.

The hike back was severely strenuous especially with the added weight from the trash we had picked up below. That morning we began the hike at 10:00 am and did not make it back to Flat Top Mountain till 5:00 pm. To say the least we were all exhausted, but we had formed an undeniable bond and gained a deeper appreciation for all the settlers who chose to call the Lost Cove their home.”

Group photo within the Lost Cove settlement.

Group photo within the Lost Cove settlement.

The next Lost Cove Hike will be held on April 26, 2014. Due to the increased popularity of this guided hike, we will open registration to SAHC members from March 1st through the 31st, followed by open registration for the general public after March 31. Please email Anna@appalachian.org for more info or to register.

Categories: Hikes | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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